If you were jones'ing for that basketball fix you sure haven't been devoid of hoops news during what's been an interesting offseason at KU.
Normally the post-March months feature scattered news stories but since
KU was ousted in the second round of the NCAA Tournament the papers
have been filled with news directly or indirectly related to KU.
While Sherron Collins departure was a given, KU was waiting on
decisions from some of its highly-regarded underclassmen. To no one's
surprise 6-11 junior Cole Aldrich and freshman Xavier Henry chose to
pursue their professional careers in the NBA. To both players credit,
they made their decisions early allowing KU head coach Bill Self to
actively shop their scholarship spots to aspiring prospects.
Both players experienced teary-eyed press conferences but both sure of
their decisions hired agents making their departures a sure thing.
A final recruiting race ensued and Self made his final pushes to obtain
a couple of more blue chippers to add to his 2010-2011 roster. This one
wasn't quite as dramatic as last season's Xavier Henry saga but it was
KU was thought to have a legit shot at two marquee names in Doron Lamb
and Josh Selby. Both players announced their intentions during the
McDonald's All-American game. The heralded Selby opted for KU while
Lamb chose the Kentucky Wildcats. Once Selby made his decision it
looked like Portland's Terrance Jones loomed as a possible marquee name
willing to join Selby on KU's roster. Turned out that Jones chose to
stay close to home and attend Washington. Well, at least he did for a
few days. Ultimately though, Jones ended up alongside Lamb and Kentucky
head coach John Calipari's decorated roster.
Just a few days later, KU received good news involving the class of
2012 when sophomore Zach Peters, a 6-9 big man from Plano, Texas,
orally committed to the Jayhawks.
Usually April showers bring May flowers but not in this case. In late
May, a multitude of issues surfaced that Kansas University and KU men's
basketball to deal with.
In a positive light, former Missouri State head coach Barry Hinson
replaced Brett Ballard (new head coach at Baker University) as Self's
Director of Basketball Operations. That was the simple and least
complicated news delivered in May.
During the latter part of May KU released the results of an
"independent investigation" of a ticket scandal which occurred in the
athletic department. Athletic Department employees were implicated in a
case that involved upwards of 20,000 football and basketball tickets
and over $1.03 million in revenue. Those were the initial numbers
released numbers that were expected to grow with a federal
investigation. Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins accepted full
responsibility for the scandal that involved six individuals who no
longer work for the Athletic Department.
Origins of the ticket scandal could be traced back to 2006 according to
Jason King who now works as a reporter for Yahoo. King didn't have the
verification and proof he needed to go to Perkins with the information
back then. It could've saved Perkins and the university a lot of
But the plot thickened when Pump N' Run, a Kansas City-based AAU team
was implicated in the Yahoo report. The whistle-blower David Freeman
(Lawrence-based Real Estate Developer) offered information which stated
former KU director of ticket operations Rodney Jones and Roger
Morningstar followed the lead of Dana and David Pump when all involved
allegedly earned money scalping tickets during KU's two Final Four
appearances in 2002 and 2003.
As most people around the program know Roger is a former KU player and
the father of Brady Morningstar. Roger coached Pump N' Run in the past
and has seen its fair share of players attend KU. Current Pump N' Run
coach L.J. Goolsby vehemently spoke out in defense of the idea that the
KC AAU team was "funneling" players to Kansas. Goolsby also spoke out
in defense of Morningstar saying there was nothing to "suggest" Roger's
Self commented on the report which did not state that "funneling" was
for sure going on but Self viewed the report could be interpreted that
"By no means in this situation is that remotely accurate. This is a
situation where the people in question haven't had anything to do with
the recruitment of any of our prospects since we've been at Kansas."
Goolsby admitted he's had more players attend Missouri then Kansas.
Currently, there are four players on KU's roster with KC Pump N' Run
Post ticket scandal reports about the Pac-10 trying to snatch away half
the Big 12 surfaced. A widespread panic ensued for a lot of schools
testing the nerves of coaches and athletic directors throughout the
country, not just the Big 12.
It appeared for awhile that Kansas and Kansas State would be left out
of all the reshuffling. After all kinds of rumors and reports that
involved just about every team in the conference, when the smoke
cleared Colorado and Nebraska were gone and the Big 12 was reduced to
ten. The Buffs ended up in the Pac-10 while the Cornhuskers left for
the Big Ten. It could've been much worse for Kansas who according to
Self needed to remain a part of a BCS conference. Losing two teams is a
hit that the conference can certainly recover from.
Both teams will be removed from the Jayhawks schedule beginning in
2011-2012 but the Big 12 is technically left with an even stronger
conference after losing two teams who were often cellar-dwellers. The
Jayhawks will now play 18 conference games instead of 16 which could be
a negative down the road. It does takeaway two non-conference games but
certainly the Big 12 will feature one of the only TRUE conference
titles in the country.
Big Lew To Leave KU
Lew Perkins is one of the best Athletic Directors in the country.
Period. He did an excellent job as an AD at Maryland, and a remarkable
job in Storrs, CT at UCONN. He is a huge part of everything good that
has happened at KU the last eight years and has helped build a solid
foundation for years to come. But after the 2010-2011 year Perkins is
calling it a day at KU.
No one could blame him after the ticket scandal and rumors that he had
received exercise equipment in return for better access to basketball
seats. But that isn't likely what drove Perkins away.
When Perkins walked into Self's office on June 11th, Self assumed when
he shut the door that there was news involving conference realignment.
Instead Self was informed by Perkins that he would step down at the end
of 2011. Self called the decision "suprising but not shocking" and
informed reporters that Lew had been talking about retirement plans for
over a year.
What's an offseason without keeping the medical staff busy?
First, it was freshman Josh Selby who broke the pinkie finger in his
left hand in his very first pick up game at KU. Not a great start but
no one thinks this will affect a player as talented as Selby. Still t
was an interesting beginning to his career when he showed up for his
first official interview with a cast on his non-shooting hand. After a
four-six weeks pickup game ban, Selby is expected to resume normal
activities with the team.
Conditioning, ball-handling, and a lot of one-handed shooting work have
been a staple of the 6-3 Selby's normal regimen along with six
hours of summer classes.
In a game in early June at KU's Basketball camp Marcus Morris severely
bruised a tailbone, Thomas Robinson broke his nose, Markieff Morris,
who ran into Robinson needed three stitches to close a cut in his
Oh yeah, and there was NCAA aftermath injury news as fans learned that
KU guard Tyrel Reed played two games with a broken big toe on his left
foot. Tough kids.
With all the negative news scattered throughout the papers Kansas got a
heavy dose of hitting the lottery.
Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich spent draft day in the green room in New
York City and both were rewarded by hearing their names announced as
part of the lottery by David Stern. First, it was the 6-11 Aldrich who
went to the New Orleands Hornets followed by Xavier who was chosen 12th
by the Grizzlies. Aldrich was eventually traded to the up-and-coming
Oklahoma City Thunder where he will join a roster that features Texas
great Kevin Durant and former KU star Nick Collison.
Self knew that the Thunder were interested in moving up in the draft to
obtain Aldrich and the eighth year KU coach also made a trip to Memphis
to speak to the Grizzlies in person. If you're wondering what being
back-to-back picks in the lottery means to your paycheck – Aldrich will
make $1.7M in year one, $1.9M in year two, and over $2.0M in year
three. Henry will net $1.68M in his first year, $1.8M in year two, and
over $1.9M in 2012-2013.
The surprise of the night came when Sherron Collins was not drafted.
Hard to imagine the winningest player in KU history could not find a
spot on someone's draft board. The rumors were floating around for
months that Collins weight was yo-yoing back and forth. Being just 5-11
and 207 lbs+ with weight that was said to reach as high as 229 at times
nixed his status as a high level prospect. For Sherron to make it at
the NBA level he knows that his fitness and conditioning must be
tip-top. A disappointed Collins got a call from Charlotte Bobcats GM
Michael Jordan and will take part in summer league for the Bobcats.
Collins will again have to prove himself to Jordan and to head coach
Larry Brown if he wants to earn a spot on a Bobcats roster that he
could actually help.
The summer league takes place in Orlando, FL July 5-9th.
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